Entangled Flight by Virginia Hughes

A flash of feathers in rapid succession catches my eye from the kitchen window. A mourning dove is flailing in the crabapple tree. 

I cautiously approach speaking just above a whisper, "It's all right, let me see," reaching around the bird's back to gently hold it. Both legs are caught fast in kite string. A wide web of string is forming in the nearby branches from the bird's wild thrashing. Once it quiets, freeing it may begin.

My husband finds the smallest scissors and we commence the delicate process of cutting and unwinding string off the impossibly skinny legs of the dove. Snip, snip, I shakily avoid the slender legs, the tender feet. We pray it doesn't die of fright or make a sudden movement and suffer more within our hands. 

Once freed, I set it gently on a branch. It grips with one healthy set of tiny talons, the other claw misshapen, unable to clasp around the branch. The wounded claw hangs awkwardly in the air as the dove balances on one leg like a flamingo.

The nature center’s oft repeated lecture about leaving wild things alone echoes in my mind. I remember my children on nature center field trips watching caregivers feed baby squirrels, fledglings and bunnies with an eye dropper. A stern lecture always ensues about leaving wild creatures in their place. 

A different bird broken by a car driving in front of our home had sent us previously to the nature center for help. We sat through our reprimand for touching it, “The robin is not surviving and should have been left to die!” My young daughters burst into tears. Cruel world. I reassure my children that the wounded bird should not have been left dazedly, dodging cars. What a macabre street theater, with youngsters as the audience, front and center. It was kind to seek mercy for the wounded creature.

Today's bird, the dove in front of me, may need more help. Will the nature center fashion a tiny splint for that ruined claw after lecturing me, of course, maybe provide a bird sized grain of pain med? 

How does so much string become part of a bird? Perhaps while nesting, going about her birdly-mom duties, she pecks a useful looking wad of string, never suspecting it to take on a life of its own, ensnaring and nearly ending hers. She is overwhelmed when something good takes a sudden turn in the wind.

Motion in front of me catches my attention as the bird pulls her gimp leg up slowly raising and lowering both wings, gripping with one claw, wide-eyed and blinking. Up to a higher branch she flies. Adapting and balancing on the one leg again, she eyes me cautiously, lifts off the branch and flies swiftly away. She is freed yet marked by her battle with the string.

I am the mother bird with many good intentions, in over my head with lots of strings attached. Such is the nature of birds and other mothers. Daily I walk by faith and pray for wisdom to share with my children living in a broken world. The closeness we desire with our children is a God-given gift worth fighting for when conflicts arise and communication gets strained. We are entangled for good.

In physics, entangled means to cause the quantum states of two or more objects to become correlated in such a way that they remain correlated, even though the objects are separated spatially. Aha, math backs up the existence of our familial heart strings. They are so very strong yet stretch quite thin at times. When I struggle, I flail like the dove in the branches. It gets me nowhere until I remember to become quiet in God's presence. Worship begins and the spirit frees me of all but his goodness. I remember the words from an old hymn, “Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee.”

I am freed, yet marked by my battle with the string. May I forever embrace my entangled flight. 

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above.